HomeSportsMarch Madness: South Carolina's championship victory over Caitlin Clark, Iowa drew a...

March Madness: South Carolina’s championship victory over Caitlin Clark, Iowa drew a record 18.7 million viewers

For the third time in a row, Caitlin Clark and Iowa set a new viewership record.

South Carolina’s victory over Clark and the Hawkeyes in the national championship game on Sunday set a new record with 18.7 million viewers and became the most-watched women’s basketball game of all time. The broadcast peaked at 24 million viewers and was the most watched basketball game since 2019.

Clark and the Hawkeyes broke several viewership records during the tournament leading up to Sunday’s championship game. Their win over LSU in the Elite Eight was the most watched women’s basketball game ever. That battle, which was a repeat of LSU’s win over Iowa in last year’s national championship game, averaged more than 12.3 million viewers and peaked at just over 16.1 million viewers. The previous milestone was last year’s title game, which attracted just under 10 million viewers.

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On Friday night, Iowa’s win over UConn in the Final Four broke that record again. That game drew 14.2 million viewers and peaked at about 17 million, and was also ESPN’s most-watched basketball game of any kind. The game surpassed the ratings of all last season’s NBA Finals and World Series games, every round of the Masters since 2013 and all but five of last season’s college football games. South Carolina’s win over NC State in the Final Four drew just over 7 million viewers.

South Carolina defeated Caitlin Clark and Iowa 87-75 on Sunday to win its third national championship under head coach Dawn Staley.

South Carolina defeated Caitlin Clark and Iowa 87-75 on Sunday to win its third national championship under head coach Dawn Staley. (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

Sunday’s championship game was then moved from ESPN to ABC, no doubt helping the record viewership.

The Gamecocks took a late lead and earned an 87-75 victory over Clark and the Hawkeyes on Sunday at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland. It was the third national title for South Carolina in program history. The Gamecocks are now the first undefeated national champions since 2016 and only the tenth team in history to do so. They have only lost one game in the past two years.

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Clark, who broke numerous records this past season while leading the Hawkeyes to a second consecutive championship game, is expected to be selected No. 1 overall in the WNBA Draft next week. South Carolina star Kamilla Cardoso has also declared for the draft and is expected to go in the top five.

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